Friday, April 30, 2010

The Potting Bench

Last year the potting bench was white.  Dirty, old, spray-painted 6 years ago, white.  Then, I got the bright idea to use it to display all the plants I bring home.  Some folks bring home stray cats, I can't walk past a flower.

So, I added paint.  A nice, old-fashioned green.  I like it.

But was that enough?  No, not for me!  In one of my "Lucy" moments, I asked Eric to till up the yard where the potting bench sits.  Do you suppose he gets tired of my schemes?  After all, he had just dug up sod and expanded my herb garden to twice it's size....

All so I could go to Hitch's Greenhouse and buy all kinds of herbs I don't know how to use yet.  Shhh.... Please don't tell Eric that part.

At the end of the day, this is what we accomplished.  I transplanted my Brown-eyed Susans and planted some daisies and a neat cone flower.  It still takes a bit of imagination, but in a few weeks.... 

What is your favorite flower or herb to grow?  How do you display your flowers?  Should I quit all the froofy stuff and concentrate on planting some seeds that will grow into food.. Don't answer that. ;)

All I Need is a Pretty Hat...

I love the Kentucky Derby.  It's so beautifully perfect.  It's not the fast horses or the beautifully manicured lawns.  It's certainly not the thrill of betting money, as the thought of losing that money makes a tightwad like me nearly ill.  It's not the Mint-Julips either.  I'd rather have a glass of iced tea any day, with or without the mint!

I love the Kentucky Derby because it's the one day of the year when it's acceptable and even encouraged to dress with class and style and wear a beautiful hat.  Don't tell anyone, but I love those hats and dresses!  I watch the news coverage of the day, just to see what the ladies are wearing.

I'll be at home for the Derby, probably trying to catch up on some laundry.  I just can't help but think that it would be more fun in a pretty dress and a hat.....

What do you think?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Handsome hubby with a vacation day!
A load of cedar mulch for my hosta garden.
The smell of freshly mowed grass.
A quick trip to the Hardinsburg General Store,
A visit with Grommie and Poppi.
Dinner with my family, eaten on the picnic table.

Hope you'll leave a comment to share the best parts of your day.  I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Making Memories

also know as....
The Great Marshmallow Roasting Camp-out on a Rainy Night End of School Celebration

Our first year of home schooling is officially over!  Not that the learning will stop, but the attendance calendar and the planned curriculum has come to an end for the year.  We have logged 180 days, learning about all sorts of things from Apples to Zebras.  Such an achievement calls for a celebration.  A big celebration.
Unfortunately, it rained on our plans.  Sometimes a mom just has to change directions and throw together a new party plan.  So.....

We decided to go camping.  We picked a spot that was perfect.  Warm, dry and not too far from the movie we wanted to watch.  We added a real tent with the help of Danny.  Then we added a pretend fire pit made out of an old pie pan, some construction paper and a whole lot of tape.

Who knew wooden grilling skewers would be perfect for pre-roasting marshmallows over the heat of an electric stove burner?  The kids had a great time pretending to roast their marshmallows before they ate them.  The skewers were then promptly collected...

A great time was had by all.... except Sam.  He was just slightly mystified by the whole thing and a bit frustrated by the fact that he wasn't allowed to play with a poky stick covered in sticky, gooey goodness.  His time will come.... maybe when the next school year ends.

A Library Book Reviewed

Girls Love Gymnastics, An American Girl book.
Guest written by Mary.(age 6)

I really liked the book.
It has 5 stories about girls.
I think your girls will like the book..............and they'll love it if they're going to gymnastics.

Check it out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Kiddos that still like to "snugglebug."
Sausage and eggs breakfast.
My husband working from home.
Spring rain on it's way.... I hope.
Mrs. Hitch's greenhouse, filled with flowers and plants.

What are you thankful for today?  Hope you'll take time to leave a comment and share with us!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

And so it begins....

I love spring.  It makes me want to paint and plant things.

Recognize this potting bench?  If not, look at the top of this blog.
It got a new coat of paint!  How do you like that old-fashioned green?

I also added the first layer of flowers.  Sweet little Violas....

These herbs and flowers are waiting for me to plant them, too.
So are the blueberry bushes, a grape and a raspberry vine.

I love spring.  Just don't look inside my house!

Cheeseburger Update

Cheeseburger is adjusting nicely, don't you think?

This is some serious cuteness!

Meet Cheeseburger

She's a one or two week old calf that was abandoned by it's mother.  She's going to be living here at our place for awhile.  We are calling her cheeseburger to remind the kids that she is not a pet.  She is a cute little calf now, but she will grow up to be a great big cow.  Cows have a limited number of purposes.  This cow will not be a pet.  She will be a cheeseburger.  It's best to be honest with the kids up front.  That doesn't mean it won't be hard to say goodbye to an animal that we fed and took care of. 

I remember Cow-van.  He was a little calf, just like this one.  I bottle fed him when I was a young girl.  He grew and fulfilled his purpose of feeding our family.  It wasn't an easy lesson for me to learn, but a good one.

It sounds very cruel, especially to those unacquainted with farm animals.  Cheeseburger will have a good life here.  She will have good grass to eat.  She will be able to run and play as a calf and she will be able to mosey around as a cow.  She will be well fed and cared for.  Compared to the beef cows that live on confined feeding lots around this country (which probably feed you if you ever buy a hamburger at the store or a restaurant), she'll have a great life.  Yes, the end is the same.  It would be regardless.  Beef cows are for beef.  This one will have a relatively good life here.  We will feed and care for her and then she will feed and nourish our family.  That is how it works.

The kids are very excited about feeding her with a bottle.  Mary fed her this morning and really enjoyed it.  They plan to take turns caring for her.  It will be a good lesson for them.  It will also be a lot of fun.

More to come on this grand adventure.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The hottest part of the summer was always the best. A day would come when a nine year old girl would arrive at Grandma's house and find a factory of green bean production. Sometimes the work of picking the beans in the garden was already done. Those piles of beans would fill the bushel baskets till they were nearly overflowing.

The kitchen was a hot and mysterious place with all those shiny pressure canners. It was strictly off limits to kids. I'm pretty sure the men folks didn't wander in there either. Mom and Grandma owned that territory, bustling around filling jars and emptying the finished jars onto big, spread out bath towels.

They didn't mind their exile from the kitchen. The living room would be filled with those bushel baskets, parked next to various family members who were snapping beans into big mixing bowls or dish pans. Sometimes the television was on, but usually it was a time for visiting. The men in the family enjoyed the break from farm work in the heat of the summer.

The nine year old girl loved being big enough to help. There was a TV tray for her to use, a dish towel in her lap, and a big pile of beans waiting to be snapped. For the first time in her life, they gave her a small kitchen knife and showed her how to use it to cut out small bug bites in the beans. It was the first time she got to really contribute to the work of the family. In that living room, she was able to work like an adult and be a part of the adult world. She liked it.

It was a hurried time, as they had to keep ahead of the canners in the kitchen. Still, they sat in the living room talking and listening to stories from Grandpa. For that day, three generations of the family would come together to work with a single purpose, home canned green beans that would fill the shelves all winter. They enjoyed each little pop that came from the kitchen signaling that another can had sealed tight.

It seems like another world to me now. Grandma Belma passed away a few years ago and Grandpa Tuck has moved to North Carolina. I miss having their presence in my everyday life. Now, my mom is the grandma in that house. My Mary is the young girl, exploring the world and contemplating adulthood. I'm in the middle, filling the role of mom, trying to pass on the knowledge and love of past generations to my kids.

I hope and pray that my kids and eventually my grand-kids will have the opportunity to work alongside many generations of family to accomplish a common goal. There is no better way to learn family history, a great work ethic, some very funny stories and build family bonds. Yeah, I loved those hot days of summer.....

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thankful Thursday

A hard working husband
Barefooted kids
Our first homegrown salad of the year
Sunny days

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I like simple things. A bonfire on a cool night. Wildflowers growing in a field. A walk at the park. Visiting with family, sipping sweet tea. Kids chasing fireflies. Walking in the woods, looking for mushrooms. I like simple. Less is more, don't you know.
Life isn't simple. Beautiful, messy, joyful and heartbreaking, but not simple. Balance. That's what life is. Balancing between the joys and pains, needs and wants. Balancing responsibility and love against heavy selfishness. Sometimes we fall.
My balance is a bit off this week. I have fallen so many times that I don't want to try again. I'm frustrated.
So tonight, I will sleep. Hopefully, my children will do the same. Tomorrow, I will get back on the tight-rope. The love and grace of God and my family will be my safety net.
Maybe, I'll even get the dishes done.
How do you balance? What is your "safety net?"

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Teacher's Daughter

It was awfully quiet. In a house with 4 kids, quiet doesn't happen much. Naturally, I became concerned. I like to sneak up on them. You know, catch them in the act.

First, I heard them. Mary was talking, very quietly. As they came into view, I saw Mary sitting on a chair in her room with Danny and Sarah obediently sitting on the floor. On Mary's lap was an open Bible storybook. She was reading the story of Joseph and teaching her own little Sunday school class.

As she read about Joseph's special coat, she showed the little ones a doll dress. She explained that the coat Joseph's father gave him made him feel very special. Then, as she read about Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery, she passed around a pair of toy handcuffs to help the kids understand that Joseph had been taken as a kind of prisoner.

I stood there, utterly amazed. I expected to find them eating smuggled Easter candy. Instead, Mary's sweet teaching style and love for her little brother and sister brought tears to my eyes.

Not every parenting moment is so sweet. So much of our day is filled with correction and breaking up sibling squabbles. But every so often, they give us a glimpse into the maturity they will one day possess. We get to see sweetness. Kindness. Love. A teacher's daughter teaching great lessons to her siblings. And I'm not just talking about Joseph.

Gotta go. It's awfully quiet......

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recycle Recipe

Take 1 large piece of cardboard, a big bucket of broken crayons, some tape, wooden blocks and all the Hot Wheels you can find. Combine them with a young boy, about the age of 4.

Add rivers, bridges, ponds, farms, roads, and railroads using the crayons. Build houses, barns, and hotels with the wooden blocks. Use a small piece of cardboard and lots to tape to make a bridge over the river.

Add cars, trains, tractors and heavy equipment. Oh, no! A wreck! Call 911, quick. Oh, good. Here come the fire trucks and ambulance. Whew!

Enjoy hours of fun!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Things I'm thankful for today...

Knee-high asparagus in my garden

Silly giggles and happy children

Lined-dried clothes

Sunny skies

Good friends

Little green leaves on trees

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Fur Lined Toilet Seats?

My grandmother lived simply, in an old farmhouse with no indoor plumbing. We had rain barrels, a cistern, and a very nice spring a few miles away. And yes, an outhouse. When my mother and I moved from grandma's house into a new home (with plumbing), Grandma teased my mom about her "fur lined toilet seats."

This phrase helps me focus on keeping my priorities in order. It's so hard to balance the wants and needs of family, home, school, church and work. Sometimes, we just need to consider whether something is needed (such as a toilet) or if it is just icing on the cake (or fur lining on the toilet seat).

This blog will be a place for me to share the joy of our family's life as well as the adventure of living life with and sometimes without the fur lining. Hope you'll stop by every so often and tell your friends as well.

Are you thinking about going for cloth diapers?

So, lots of people have asked me about cloth diapers and I figured I'd just put this out for y'all.

1. Cloth diapers are not hard to clean. Wet ones get dropped in a bucket. Dirties get swished in the potty to remove any solids and dropped in a bucket. Then, the bucket gets emptied into my washer and the diapers get washed with mild detergent and hot water. I pull the diapers out at the end of the wash and throw 'em on a drying rack. End of story. That's really all there is to it. Stained diapers get hung out on the line in the bright sun for that bright white look. Seriously. It's really that easy.

2. How to swish a diaper. Hold the diaper by an unsoiled area ('cause I'm a pansy like that) and dip repeatedly into the toilet. Hold on tight and be sure to pull the diaper up out of the water before you flush. Don't ask me how I know that. ;) Park your diaper bucket near the toilet for easy transfer of wet, somewhat icky diaper.

3. Picking your diapers... Gone are the days of diaper pins and folding diapers. I've done these. We used 'em with my little brother and sisters (10, 13, and 16 years between us, so I really have done these). Gone are stinky rubber pants. Now you have so many choices you'll have trouble deciding. Google it. Ask your friends which ones they like. I use Gro Baby. Love 'em. They were a good price and they leave me with the smallest wash/work load. They are great and I would definitely recommend them to anyone who wants to do cloth diapers.

4. Guilt. Drop it. Don't even worry about it. Cloth diapers are great for all the reasons you already know. Yeah, yeah.... the environment. Landfills. My wallet shrinking from the cost of diapering all the babies we've had around here.... All that said, I figure every time I use cloth, I'm not using a disposable. I do use disposables. They are so nice for going shopping. They are also so nice for babies who like to sleep all night and leave their mommas to peaceful dreaming. Cloth diapers, not so much. So, use cloth at home when life allows. When the kids are all puking and you have your hands too full already, fall back on the diapers that you throw away. It's really okay. No stress, people.

Any questions? Hope you go for the cloth diapers. Besides being really good things to do, there is nothing cuter than those diaper covers on a chubby little baby running all over the house. I'm loving it.

Why I Love Homeschooling

~ I wasn't sure how this adventure of homeschooling was going to go, but we jumped right in last August in an effort to give the best we could to Mary. Danny jumps in and does preschool most days, but can opt out anytime he's busy playing. I thought I'd spend a few minutes sharing our year and some of the best things about homeschooling.

I never thought I'd home school my kids. Never. I always envisioned them climbing aboard the school bus in the morning, heading to a traditional classroom like the ones where I have been a student and a teacher. I thought I'd want to get back to the classroom myself, as soon as all the kids were in school. Life doesn't always turn out as we plan it for ourselves. In my case, I found that my plan wasn't the best thing I could do for my kids. So, on to Plan B.

We jumped into homeschooling last August with a bit of hesitation. Sam was a little bitty fellow, requiring so much attention. Sarah was 2 and into everything. I couldn't imagine Daniel would want to spend much time "schooling." I had wanted to enroll Mary in first grade (she missed the birthday cut-off date by 5 days) at the local school, but found that they were not very interested in even discussing our request. Unless we were willing to cause a lot of trouble, Mary was going to be placed in Kindergarten despite the fact that she was already reading on a fourth grade level. It became very clear to me, that the school just wasn't going to be willing to "go the extra mile" for my daughter. They had bigger problems and busy teachers. At least, that's what the principal told me. Besides, who wants their kid to be the last to get her license and not be able to find boys in her class to date. He really said that.

So you see, I had a decision to make. I could put Mary in school and not make any waves, allowing her to spend her days learning about sight words and the letter of the day. Or, I could take on the challenge and teach her myself. After much frustration, discussion, tears (on my part) and prayer, we decided to try out homeschooling for a year. Despite the rocky start, it's been a very amazing year indeed with so many wonderful surprises!

I spent a lot of time preparing for our home school. I ordered the Saxon Math home school curriculum. I decorated an area of the basement with letters, colors, number charts, bulletin boards and a dry erase board. I came up with the brilliant plan (at least I think it was a pretty good idea) of tying Mary's school experience together with Daniel's preschool by studying one letter per week and picking a topic that started with that letter for the kids to study together. We just completed letter Zz, with a field trip to the Louisville Zoo. Putting so much work into setting things up has been very beneficial, especially to my sanity.

Some things just can't be prepared, and we've had our challenges. On the other hand, there have been benefits that have surprised me along the way. I assume that if you are reading this, you are at least considering home schooling. The following is a list of some of the things I have learned or been surprised about this year. Hope it is helpful to you in your home school or your decision to home school.

1. Time. I thought homeschooling would take up enormous amounts of time each day. We usually finish in under two hours unless we are involved in a big, complicated project that involves glue and paint and construction paper. On those types of days we spend most of the day "schooling." I can usually spend part of our school time working in the kitchen or folding laundry while the kids do their work. I planned to have school during nap time to avoid the invading two year old. This was a good plan and I highly recommend it to all of you with little ones.

2. Curriculum. We used a prepared math curriculum. I chose Saxon Math, because it is what I taught and I knew it would be the easiest curriculum for me to teach Mary. Aside from math, we have developed our own curriculum. Science and social studies comes from our weekly letter subject studies. For letter Bb, we did bugs. The kids had an excellent time finding bugs outside and using a book to identify the ones they didn't already know. We had a blast creating a jungle scene for letter Jj. Art just happens, you see? Language arts has been fueled by our local library and the ton of books we already own. I let Mary choose her books most of the time. I monitor to see that she is choosing a good variety of story books, chapter books, poetry and non-fiction books. She surprised me by her great enjoyment of learning about the presidents, especially George Washington. She loves to write letters and journal. She started recording recipes in her own book. Sometimes, I let her make out the grocery list. Writing happens in very authentic ways around here.

3. Field trips. Eric took the two older kids to the Air Force Museum and we went on a family field trip to the Zoo. I'd like to do more field trips next year, since Sam will be a bit more capable of going along or going to Grandma's for the day. I figure they will get a few more trips this summer with camping and some of the local festivals.

4. The real home school classroom. So much of our learning doesn't occur during "school hours." It is so nice to have the opportunity to teach my kids things they need to learn as we are living our life. Last weekend, Daniel helped me plant some things in the garden. We talked about the worms crawling through the soil and how they help our plants to grow. Sarah helped me hang out the clothes today. She saw a bee and told me how much she dislikes them. I explained (in very simple terms) the bees' role in helping our food grow and how she should treat bees. Mary frequently helps me cook supper. She knows and understands the measurements we use and can add fractions in her head in order to double recipes and/or use the clean measuring cups. :)

5. Our life style. We have a very relaxed lifestyle. At least that's our goal. I like that the kids can run and play outside all day if it's pretty. I love that they can curl up inside with a good book. I think it's fabulous to watch them playing Goldilocks and The Three Bears out on the deck and Going On A Bear Hunt while they walk through the woods. We cook real food. We grow some of it. We go visit family whenever we can. Eric's folks come over almost every weekend. We have play dates with our neighbors and friends. We volunteer time at church. I don't have to get the kids up at the crack of dawn and put them on a bus. I don't have to spend an hour or more in the afternoon doing homework and seeing that all the permission slips are signed. We are going to get some chickens. It's not the life for everyone, but it's definitely for us.

6. Next year. I think we'll do this again. Mary will be second grade, Daniel will be in Kindergarten, Sarah will be in a sort of pre-preschool. Sam will just be Sam. :) They will teach each other things, and I will teach them things as well. I think it will be harder next year because Mary is reaching deeper in her learning and Daniel is ready to read (already reading several simple and/or familiar words). Hopefully (my fingers are crossed, since they keep pushing the date back) the new and closer branch of the library will open, allowing us to be more involved in their programs. Mary will become involved in a few more clubs and activities as she's a bit older now and life with a baby becomes a bit easier for our family.

I really love homeschooling the kids. It's been a great experience for our family.

I will add that I think teachers and schools are wonderful. I am a teacher, after all! Schools provide an excellent resource for our communities and help our kids grow and learn. I'm disappointed that my local lower elementary school wasn't more supportive. We may choose to send the kids to school in later years. I have spent some time in our local schools. I know they are very good. I am especially impressed with our local upper elementary and the high school. I think it's very important to be a part of the local community and do hope the schools will play a role in our family's life. For now, I am glad to be able to provide a rich learning experience for the kids while they are so interested in learning. I want their love for learning to be life-long. When it comes down to it, we all just want to give our kids the very best we have to offer. Love, safety, support, humor, joy and a good understanding of right and wrong are the things we all strive to give our kids. I'm hoping the kids look back and see that we tried to raise them well and how much we love them. I think that is what all parents want. So, if my love for homeschooling offends you, please know that it isn't an attack on school or on parents who send their kids to school. Homeschooling has been the best thing our family could do. It works very well for us.

Thanks for stopping by. Visit anytime.